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Discourses of climate delay

Skeptical Science is a good collection of arguments against many common myths among climate change deniers. Those same old climate change denial myths are still going strong and unfortunately still need to be debunked again and again.

These days, there’s a new category of debunking that we need to do even as people are realizing the gravity of the situation. This isn’t meant to be doomy but it’s so we can recognize common arguments when they show up again and again and figure out a way to address them (or ignore them). I feel like some of these arguments do have a kernel of merit.

For example, just yesterday I was talking about the catastrophe in Śrī Laṅkā.

Skeptical Science has a diagram, kind of like a mind map, laying the most common delay arguments out, but it’s a png image. Here is an unofficial text mirror of what’s in that image:

Someone else should take actions first: redirect responsibility


Individuals and consumers are ultimately responsible for taking actions to address climate change.


Our carbon footprint is trivial compared to […]. Therefore it makes no sense for us to take action, at least until […] does so.

The ‘free rider’ excuse

Reducing emissions is going to weaken us. Others have no real intention of reducing theirs and will take advantage of that.

It’s not possible to mitigate climate change: surrender

Change is impossible

Any measure to reduce emissions effectively would run against current ways of life or human nature and is thus impossible to implement in a democratic society.


Any mitigation actions we take are too little, too late. Catastrophic climate change is already locked-in. We should adapt, or accept our fate in the hands of God or nature.

Disruptive change is not necessary: push non-transformative solutions


We should focus our efforts on current and future technologies, which will unlock great possibilities for addressing climate change.

All talk, little action

We are world leaders in addressing climate change. We have approved an ambitious target and have declared a climate emergency.

Fossil fuel solutionism

Fossil fuels are part of the solution. Our fuels are becoming more efficient and are the bridge towards a low-carbon future.

No sticks, just carrots

Society will only respond to supportive and voluntary policies, restrictive measures will fail and should be abandoned.

Change will be disruptive: emphasize the downsides

Policy perfectionism

We should seek only perfectly-crafted solutions that are supported by all affected parties; otherwise we will waste limited opportunities for adoption.

Appeal to well-being

Fossil fuels are required for development. Abandoning them will condemn the global poor to hardship and their right to modern livelihoods.

Appeal to social justice

Climate actions will generate large costs. Vulnerable members of our society will be burdened; hard-working people cannot enjoy their holidays.